Attractions in Doha Qatar
The Doha fort, known as Al Koot fort is one of the historical military fortress in Doha. Located in the midst of the famous Souq Waqif of Doha and the site of the old town, it was built in the 19th century as a police station and now it was converted to a museum. The whole structure was submitted to refurbishment in 1978 and during restoration many of the original features of the fort were lost. The fort is now being returned to its former grandeur, as part of the neighboring Souq Waqif project.
Doha fort is not as old as other forts in Middle East; however the fort is definitely a significant link in the history of Qatar and offers an insight into the cultural and architecture style that existed during the turn of a seismic cultural shift. During the Turkish rule over Qatar in 1880, Al Koot Fort was built and was used as a defensive military barrack in its earlier years. This Moorish-style relic now has museum inside it and exhibits Qatari traditional handcrafts, gold work, artwork including oil paintings of craft workers and historical photographs. The museum also houses exhibitions detailing many Kuwait’s Bedouin handicrafts, namely Sadu weaving and other Bedoin practices including fishing equipment, wooden ornaments, and gypsum-burning techniques, boat-building and rope-making. This having been a military fort, it also exhibits weaponry and arms.
Al-Koot fort has a square shaped courtyard enclosed on all sides by a towering wall. There are Circular towers in three corners and the fourth one has a rectangular tower. The towers are capped with customary Qatari-style ramparts and triangular-based ledges with slots called machicolations that guards used to fire at enemies. The number of doors in the courtyard leads to prison cells. There is one larger door which leads to a windowless high-security space that was reserved for the most terrifying criminals.
The south and north areas of the fort have extensive 'iwan', which are porticos of square arcades overlooking the courtyard. There is a deep well that was used as a water supply for cleaning in the southern portico.
The first floor consists of a spacious promenade and outside stairs on the corners of the courtyard lead to first floor. The walls are infused with many gunfire holes, each one angled in a different direction so that soldiers could fire at the adversaries attacking from any side.
The courtyard mosque is one of the distinct features of the Doha Fort which has neither roofs nor walls. It may seem odd but this was deliberately constructed as it was mostly used by prisoners who needed regular supervision. The 'mehrab' still faces the 'Kaaba' in Mecca despite the lack of physical structure. The best thing you can say for the fort at present is that is one of the few parts of old Doha left standing and so worth walking through the Souq Waqif to see the fort.
The fort itself was built in 1880 during the Ottoman occupation when Doha was little more than a village. During that time this fort would have been at the outskirts of the town, the fort was originally a military barracks and a then was converted to police station before being used as a prison from 1906.
How to go?
The Al Koot Fort is located nearby Doha Corniche in the midst of the famous Souq Waqif and it's actually located at the corner of Al Qalaa Street and Jasim Bin Mohammed Street. The Fort is now a favorite Landmark and tourist spot, especially for foreigners and is open to curious visitors.
Address: Near souq waqif, Jassim bin Mohammed St, Al Bidda neighborhood
Telephone: +974 44424143, 4444 2747
Open every day from 9am to 12pm, and 4pm to 7pm
(Closed on Friday and Saturday afternoons)
The Entrance is free of charge.
Things to Remember
- The access to fort is not always open to public so ensure to check the QMA website.
- The Al-Koot fort is open by appointment. To schedule a visit, call and confirm.
- Do not miss a visit to Waqif Souq, where you can find anything and everything. It is located behind Al-Koot fort on Grand Hammad Street.
- Visitors can also stop and relax at the fountain which is situated just outside the fort.
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